The conversion happened, and was lovely and sweet and meaningful. I’m going to post the program I wrote up for attendees at the mikveh below, and post my notes for the naming speech i gave later, when O isn’t being so needy (he’s got another cold, bless him). Feel free to crib from this if you’re planning your own conversion ceremony and need to explain what’s going on to various well-wishers.
Welcome to O’s conversion ceremony!
The conversion of any male to Judaism has three components : Brit Milah, Beit Din, and Mikveh.
Brit Milah is the covenant of circumcision. Although O was circumcised in the hospital where he was born, this is not enough to fulfill the requirement of Brit Milah. The circumcision has to be done with the intention of entering a male into the covenant, so for people who are already circumcised, there is a procedure called Hatafat Dam Brit, where the circumcision is ceremonially redone through the drawing of a drop of blood from the circumcision site. O had this done earlier in the week so he would be all healed for today.
The Beit Din is a rabbinic court of three rabbis. In addition to presiding over conversions, a Beit Din can be assembled to deal with any contractual matter. Generally, a prospective convert is interviewed by the Beit Din to assess his knowledge of Jewish law and practice, his commitment to Judaism, and his understanding of the obligation he is placing himself under. Since O’s conversational skills are still in development, the Beit Din will be interviewing Lee about his intentions to raise O Jewish and his Jewish practice. This interview began before guests began to arrive, and is probably still ongoing when you get here, so please take this time to enjoy the food and each other’s company.
A Mikveh is a ritual bath used for many purposes in Judaism. Water from natural sources is required for a Mikveh, and this facility, Mayyim Hayyim, takes its name (“living waters”) from that requirement. The immersion in the living waters of the Mikveh are used to mark and effect transitions, from tamei to tahor, from unprepared to prepared, or from not Jewish to Jewish. Since the immersion is not about physical cleanliness, O and Lee will be bathing and preparing themselves before entering the water. While that happens, some people will be coming over to the deck outside the preparation rooms to sing songs that will help with the spiritual preparations for immersion. Once that is done, O and Lee will enter the Mikveh, where O will be fully immersed under the water three times, witnessed by the rabbis. You will be able to hear the immersions and the blessings from the deck outside the Mikveh. After O immerses, Lee will also immerse to mark his own transition into fatherhood. Once they are both dry and dressed, there will be some paperwork to sign, a speech, and more time to enjoy the food and each other.